Folate forms part of the Vitamin B complex. It is a water-soluble vitamin that occurs naturally in food. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate. It is found in supplements and almost all the fortified foods. A person falls short of folate, when his body is increasingly in need of this vitamin. When the need does not match with the intake, deficiency symptoms get manifested.
Certain bodily conditions are found to make a person in need of this vitamin. Pregnancy and lactation demands increased supply of this crucial vitamin. Malabsorption, kidney ailments that demand dialysis, liver disease, anaemia etc are some other situation which demand increased intake of this vitamin. Certain medications are also found to interfere with folate utilization.
Pregnant women who are deficient in folate are found to be at a higher risk of giving birth to low birth weight babies. Deficiency of folate in the mother makes her infant more prone to develop neural tube defects. Premature delivery is yet another consequence of folate deficiency.
Lack of adequate folate supply in children retards their overall growth rate. In adults, a particular type of anaemia is found to result from folate deficiency for a longer period.
Folate deficiency also leads to certain other subtle digestive irregularities. These include diarrhoea, loss of appetite, sore tongue, headaches, heart palpitations, weight loss and certain behavioural disorders. Folate deficiency also leads to an increased blood level of homocysteine. This makes a person increasingly prone to many cardiovascular ailments.
However, many of the subtle symptoms of folate deficiency can also be the result of many other bodily dysfunctions. It is therefore extremely important to consultant an expert physician to make a precise diagnosis.
Folate deficiency is also found to greater among alcoholics. Alcohol is found to interfere adversely with the proper absorption of folate. This leads to the increased excretion of folate by the kidney when the body is actually in need of it. Moreover, most of the alcohol addicts expose themselves to a poor and unhealthy diet which lacks essential nutrients and vitamins such as folate.